24 November 2007


Wow. That was an incredibly ugly game. So ugly I'm not even going to save it from the DVR onto DVD. But it was enough. Six in a row! Fucking hell yeah. AND I got the Adlac Trivia Question correct.

So here's to you, Tubs, Brandon (so long, thanks for the wins, but its time you best got on up outta here), and the magnificent beasts of the Auburn defense (Blackmon, you are BEAST OF THE WEEK). I salute you.

And to Bama Nation, I salute you with all 5 fingers on my left hand and my middle finger on the right.


Too Bad, So Sad


A fantastic Alabama Thanksgiving is coming to a close tomorrow evening. It's been a great time, a very low-key, relaxed holiday. Exactly what I was hoping for. Baby Sister is off in Virginia with the probably soon-to-be future brother-in-law so it's just me, Mom, Papa Bear, and the dog. And it's been fantastic. Stuffed full of food: turkey, roast, potatoes (both mashed and sweet), stuffing, rolls, carrots, pies of diffent varieties, etc. I even made it to the gym this morning with Mom, courtesy of a guess pass. I didn't even have to leave the house to do the one piece of shopping I did Friday morning, which was buying Seasons 2,3,4 and 5 of The Sopranos of DVD for $25 each.

I've managed to finally take Franklin's advice (from 2 years ago) and have blasted my way through most of the "Firefly" DVD set I got Papa Bear for Christmas last year. Great show. Easy to see why it was cancelled: cause it was on FOX and good. Also fun to see Adam Baldwin (from the new show "Chuck" which is a new favorite at Team Henderson HQ). Anyway. Lots of football, TV, quality time with the dog, and a variety of pies? Faaaaaaantastic.

And you're probably thinking to yourself, Well, Marcus, sounds like the perfect Thanksgiving.

Well, almost. See, there's a littl football game known as the Iron Bowl, going down in a few hours. An Auburn victory will be the PERFECT cap to this weekend. While it has been overlooked on the national scale since both teams haven't come into the game ranked in several years, it's still one of the fiercest rivalries in the country.

It will be interesting to see which Brandon Cox shows up tonight. I've been working on a post on him, but we'll wait to see how he does tonight before we finish that off. It's just great to be back in state for this game. I miss being here to get the hype. And it'll be great to mute Mike Patrick's god-awful play by play and listen to the great radio call from the Auburn Radio Network for once.

But, whatever the outcome, I can live, knowing LSU LOST!!!! You know, I tried really hard this year when it appeared LSU was the SEC's only chance to make the BCS Championship Game. In New Orleans, no less. But fuck. I'm just that bitter about the Auburn game again. I have yet to receive the usual text or email messages blaming the game on the officials or Coach Miles not being prepared (anything except, you know, the other team actually being better).

By halftime last night, I just couldn't believe it. LSU was struggling and I just had to root for Arkansas. We're probably heading for an Ohio State-West Virginia title game, but I don't care. I really don't mind LSU lost, and after having to see about 30 different replays of Byrd's mircaulous game-winning catch to beat Auburn this year (not bitter at all, why do you ask?), I am loving every replay of the Arkansas interception at the end of triple overtime.

Poor, poor Matt Flynn (photo from the AP)

Seriously, I'd love for the SEC to whoop the Big 10's ass again, even LSU cause they're the best team in the SEC (and Georgia, maybe), but hell. They're a rival and you can't help but enjoy a rival's loss. Like Bama and Louisiana-Monroe.

So if Good Brandon can show up tonight, I will be thrilled and we can put a cap on this as the best Thanksgiving since the Great European Adventure of '03.

I'd like to welcome Virginia Tech CB Brandon Flowers to the "Courtney Taylor Hall of Fame" for badass college atheletes with the same name as pansy ass indie rockers.

Brandon Flowers, meet Brandon Flowers

Looking for a more eleoquent pro-Auburn take on the upcoming Iron Bowl? Look in the blogroll to the right and head over to buddy Jerry's "Joe Cribbs Car Wash."

18 November 2007


Earlier this week, I wrote about the November 15, 1989 tornado that hit Huntsville. I also mentioned that I had tried my hand at writing about it. That got me motivated to go back and look at what I had. Following is the result of piecing together typed passages, hand-written passages, and even incomplete (and sometimes incoherent) hand-written notes. The problem is that right now, too much is dependant upon cited information. And the fact that I am lacking the citation info as my stack of copied articles is a hottt mess. I'll go back sometime I'm sure and redo it with less use of cited sources. One of the main passages that is ORGINALLY mine is the interview with Patrick Newman. He's a friend of mine from high school.

The following was/is intended to be an intro to a longer piece of work. Maybe a book? Regardless, it certainly needs work and rewriting. But, to my surprise, the passage is not NEARLY as cringe-inducing as I thought it would be. Obviously if it is going to be an intro to a longer work, it needs much revision. But as it is, it's still not horrible. Which is saying something considering how this is pieced together from first draft scribbling. Of course, again, I got a lot of info from other articles and interview. I'll need to get my own hands dirty and do some groundwork if I'm going to make this into anything useable.

Well, enough talking about it. Here's what I had, warts, strange handwritten notes (the numerous 'finish' marks), and all.

The Finger of God

"And beholding the Lord’s wrath, the magicians said unto Pharoah, This is the finger of God." (Exodus 8:19)

“He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: He enlargeth the nations, and straighteneth them again.” Job 12:23

On the afternoon of Wednesday November 15, 1989, the clouds over Huntsville, Alabama grew dark, a breeze stirring the unseasonably warm air. What was considered “Indian Summer” showed no signs of the violent energy that was building in the overcast skies above. While residents enjoyed the unusual weather, in the upper-reaches of the atmosphere, clouds expanded and winds swirled, setting the stage for one of the deadliest days in the city’s history.

The National Weather Service, as well as the meteorologists at local television stations, had warned of a potentially violent outbreak of severe weather for the late afternoon and early evening. The day before, the National Severe Storms Forecast Center (NSSFC), the office responsible for monitoring severe weather situations around the country, had issued a report from their Kansas City, Missouri office indicating the strong possibility of a severe weather outbreak throughout Alabama and Northwest Florida. The report placed Northern Alabama, including the cities of Huntsville, Decatur, and Muscle Shoals, under a “High Risk” of severe weather.

The morning of the 15th, the NSSFC reemphasized that the situation was dangerous and urged locals to closely monitor the weather situation. The residents of Huntsville, no strangers to outbreaks of severe weather, kept an eye on weather reports and went through the routine of preparation. Just after 12pm, the school system held a city-wide tornado drill and businesses reviewed severe weather plans with their employees. But the routines were familiar and the residents otherwise went about their daily business.

By mid-afternoon, as schools let out and workers began planning their trip home, the sky had begun to darken. A line of thunderstorms had entered northwest Alabama and was bearing down on Muscle Shoals. Reports of heavy damage from the storms were trickling in from Mississippi. The local television stations began cutting in to regular programming to keep the populace updated.

Just after 4 PM, the sky above Huntsville was roiling black, an unusual early darkness even for an autumn afternoon. Rush hour traffic bustled at its usual stop-and-go pace along Airport Road in south Huntsville. The heavily populated stretch ran for a mile and bookended by two busy intersections with two major north-south thoroughfares: Highway 231 on the west side and Whitesburg Drive on the east side. Airport Road crossed the Whitesburg intersection, becoming Carl T. Jones Drive, climbing Garth Mountain and spilling into the large Jones Valley neighborhood on the east side of the mountain.

At her downtown office, Karen Jones was concerned about Andrew, the youngest of her three sons. Her husband Ed was supposed to pick up Andrew from Jones Valley Elementary School, located on the east side of Garth Mountain. Worried that Ed and Andrew were caught in the approaching storm, Karen left her office in north Huntsville and headed south, searching for them.
Patrick Newman, another student at Jones Valley Elementary, was on the playground outside the school. He and his younger brother Chris were one of thirty-seven students participating in the school’s extended-day program. As the storm approached, some of the teachers herded the children inside. Also present were a group of painters, assigned that week to repaint parts of the second floor of the school. One of the painters, Billy Dupree, was returning from time off for treatment of leukemia. The cancer had been in remission for several months and Dupree had finally regained enough strength to return to work.

Back on Airport Road, Patricia Nixon, an employee at Gates Cleaners, a dry-cleaning service, asked John Lewis if she could step outside for a quick cigarette break before the rain got too bad. Lewis obliged, happy to have his wife Wanda visiting the business. At the same time, Dr. Elliot Marcus, an Emergency Room doctor at Huntsville Hospital, was returning home. He headed south on Whitesburg Drive and slowed as he met the heavy traffic at the intersection of Whitesburg and Airport Road, waiting to turn left onto Carl T. Jones Drive.

A television camera for ABC affiliate WAAY, perched atop Monte Sano Mountain on the north edge of the city, was filming the impressive lightning display of the approaching thunderstorm, street and house lights shining in Jones Valley below, the Airport Road area hidden from view by foothills. At 4:30 pm, there was a blue flash behind one the smaller foothills and the lights in the valley went out, the sky and landscape meshing together in an endless canvas of black. Reflected in the blue flash was a spinning, low-hanging cloud. Lightning flashed again and then power was lost to the camera. Below, one of the deadliest tornados to hit the state of Alabama was raking across southeast Huntsville.

Originally touching down at the Redstone Arsenal U.S. Army base in west Huntsville, the funnel dragged in a northeast direction at almost 45 miles per hour across the grounds of the old Huntsville airport and a golf course. The Huntsville Police Academy was also in the vicinity, the K-9 unit sustaining the heaviest damage.

As the tornado crossed the intersection of Highway 231 and Airport Road, it slammed into a large power station, the collision resulting in the blue flash captured by the television camera. With winds topping 250 miles per hour, the tornado plowed into the Westbury Apartment complex, leveling over a dozen buildings. After demolishing the apartments, the tornado slashed through an adjacent strip mall. At Golbros, a jewelry store, workers sought shelter by locking themselves in the walk-in safety deposit locker. FINISH.

Still outside behind Gates Cleaners smoking, Patricia Nixon saw flying debris and heard the typical freight train-like rumble associated with tornados. “I saw the black clouds and ran inside…I was yelling, ‘It’s a tornado, it’s a tornado!’” John Lewis instructed the other employees and customers to take cover. He and his wife Wands took cover under a table, holding each other. One of the employees said of the Lewises, “I heard them whispering to each other.” As the tornado tore through the business, the roof collapsed and the people inside were buried under piles of bricks and plastic-sheathed clothes. Hours later, while the others were pulled from the rubble, shaken and injured but alive, rescue workers found the Lewis still in each other’s arms, crushed to death by the collapsed roof. The Lewis’ son John said later, “A woman who was inside when it hit told us that the last thing dad said to [mom] was that he loved her.”

The tornado skipped up Garth Mountain, briefly lifting off the ground yet still uprooting trees on the west side of the mountain. Had the tornado kept its course, it would have hit Jones Farm, a large but unpopulated stretch of land that occupied much of Jones Valley, only skirting the neighboring community. Instead, the tornado took a sudden left turn over the crest of the mountain and headed directly for Jones Valley Elementary School.

Teachers hurried students from the second floor to the lower level. When the tornado slammed into the school, the winds swirled and lifted many students into the air. The teachers acted quickly, grabbing and covering all the children they could. The painters did likewise, shielding the children from debris.

Patrick tried to make it inside the building. “One minute I was running with the wind,” he said, “and the next minute I was running against the wind, not moving even though I was running as hard as I could.” Flying debris knocked Patrick unconscious but miraculously a yellow awning landed nearby that protected Patrick from even more flying debris. Still, Patrick was pelted with shards of glass, cutting his back and severing his right thumb. His brother Chris suffered a broken leg.

Miraculously, and thanks in part to the quick action of the teachers and painters, there were no fatalities inside the school.

Outside the school, however, Karen Jones met with tragedy. While her devotion to her family was admirable, Karen’s timing was disastrous. She reached the Jones Valley parking lot just as the tornado slammed into the school. The tornado tossed her car into a field 100 feet away where it landed upside-down, killing her instantly. Sadly, there had been no need for her trip to the school. Ed had picked up Andrew and the pair had returned home, unscathed, where they and Andrew’s two older brothers awaited Karen’s return. Instead, hours after the tornado had hit, a state trooper showed up on the Jones’ doorstep with the heart-wrenching news. “She did the only thing any wife and mother would do. She came looking for us,” Ed said afterwards.

Along Highway 72, between Huntsville and Scottsboro, Alabama, the funnel lifted back into the sky. The storm continued to cause damage as far away as Chattanooga, Tennessee, over 100 miles away from Huntsville, but the tornado never again touched down.

The storm left in its wake 21 dead, 439 injured, and over $100 million dollars of property damage. The tornado cut a swath across Huntsville and Madison County a half-mile wide and eighteen miles long.

Eyewitness accounts from storm spotters, local law enforcement, and the filmed evidence place the tornado’s touchdown in west Huntsville at 4:30. By 4:37, the tornado was spotted east of the Huntsville metro area, headed away from the city and towards a heavily wooded part of Madison County. At 4:39, the tornado sirens that could still operate finally sounded their wail of alarm.

By night, the landscape was dreamlike. The wreckage of the buildings, shattered glass, and smashed cars tossed everywhere gleamed and shone in the beams of the hastily erected spotlights that towered over the area, helping to guide rescue workers. The red and blue lights from emergency vehicles flashed and bled into the edges of darkness the spotlights couldn’t reach. Flashlight beams waved as rescue workers strained to peer into the rubble, searching for any survivors. Cars were tossed like toys thrown by a small child throwing a tantrum. Many were thrown distances of a half-mile or more from where they had been when the tornado hit.

As day broke, the haunting scene gave wave to grim, and sometimes gruesome reality. Body parts were found scattered about the area; a leg here, an arm there. The body of James Black, one of the first confirmed fatalities, was discovered leaning against a tree near one of the destroyed apartment buildings. He had been driving home along Airport Road when the tornado struck, flinging him from his car. It was several days before the family located his car, tossed almost a mile away by the tornado.

It was mid-morning when police released an initial list of fatalities. The list had seventeen names and would expand to include twenty-one by the evening. Fourteen of the deaths were motorists stuck in rush-hour traffic on Airport Road.

Perhaps one of the most tragic stories from the tornado concerned a survivor. Billy Dupree was one of the painters that helped rescue the thirty-seven children and teachers at Jones Valley. He and the other painters had been assigned to work at the school for the week, touching up paint around the premises. Dupree was also a cancer survivor, having been in remission from Leukemia for several months before the tornado. But the loss of blood from the injuries he sustained, as well as the emotional trauma from the experience caused him to relapse. FINISH

Despite working through the night, the daylight revealed to the rescue workers that they still had an insurmountable amount of work ahead of them. The hospitals were still treating the injured and the utility company struggled to restore power to thousands of residents. Hundreds of people stayed home, their workplaces destroyed by the tornado. Others were escorted by police to claim their totaled cars and destroyed property. With the exception of Jones Valley Elementary, city schools opened as usual.

Shortly after noon, the overcast sky over Huntsville grew darker. No one working along the path of destruction took much notice since the threat of sever weather had long since passed. What had been unseasonably warm weather the day before, with temperatures in the seventies, had given way to drier, colder air with a stiff and biting wind. The clouds lowered, hiding the sun that had earlier peeked its rays upon the destruction below. Workers felt cold pricks on their hands and the backs of their necks. Many stopped to look up. Some shook their heads in disbelief, others returned to their work, and some even let out smiles. Tiny white flakes fell onto the rubble, sticking for a moment and then disappearing. Less than twenty-four hours after the deadliest and costliest disaster in the city’s history, a rare autumn snow flurry fell on Huntsville, Alabama.

15 November 2007

Now you can VOTE! The '89 Tornado turns 18!

Hard to believe it's been 18 years since Huntsville experienced its worst tornado in the city's history. I remember the day in pretty vivid detail. Kind of hard to forget, to be honest.

I still remember I went to the dentist that morning, where the nurses talked about the bad weather that was being predicted (we had been placed under a 'high risk' area for severe weather by the National Weather Service). I remember class that day, the tornado drill they made us do, and I remember going up to a neighbor's house with Baby Sister when the parents were supposed to go to a dinner. I remember looking out the window and seeing the black sky a few moments before the power went out and the weather got really bad. I remember sitting in the dark hallway, waiting for my parents to come get us.

They came after an hour or so, waiting to make sure the worst of the weather had cleared. Trees were down all over the place; we were a half-mile from Airport Road, where the tornado had cut through, so even the short drive up the street was treacherous. I don't like to think about it much, but the parents would have been in the path of the tornado had Papa Bear not decided to head back to the house to let the storm pass before heading out to a coworker's retirement dinner.

I remember sitting in the kitchen, some neighbors hanging out at our house, talking, by the light of the camping lantern. Word had begun to trickle in about the damage. Phones were down, but the radio was on and reports had come in that Airport Road, the area that held all our local grocery stores and gas stations, was completely leveled. Reports were coming through about the children trapped at Jones Valley Elementary. I read my book, The Westing Game, and don't remember much about it.

But I do remember my father and another neighbor racing through the house, grabbing a hard hat (why my father had a hard hat I don't know, I suppose he was Mr. Always Prepared) and another camping lantern and sprinting out the back door. If you've ever met Ernest, you know what an impressive feat this is. ANYWAY. There are train tracks that run North-South behind our house, along South Parkway.

The train had no communication with the city and had no idea that the tracks ahead were covered with debris from the apartment complex and rescue workers digging bodies out of said debris. My father waved down the train with the lantern and stopped the train. True story. There was a letter to the editor about it in the Huntsville Times a few days later from a neighbor. +10 for Papa Bear. For what its worth, trains no longer run along those tracks, that I know of.

The next day at school was pretty intense. A few kids from our class had been directly involved in the storm and there was drama when they appeared, late, cut up and bruised, but there nonetheless. There were loads of 'stories' floating around, such as the alleged report of multiple tornadoes in the vicinity (which seem to be false since they were never confirmed, not that multiple funnels are out of the question with a storm that big). There was the story of cops looting the jewelry store that was hit. Then there were the true stories of the painters at Jones Valley Elementary whose heroic efforts saved the lives of several children (one of the painters later died of cancer, a tragic story that was a big deal in the area). And there was the story of the husband and wife owners of a dry cleaners that were killed when the tornado made a direct hit on the shopping center where they worked.

18 years later and Airport Road still resembles the Airport Road of November 14th, 1989. The Apartment complex was rebuilt, as was the Westbury Shopping Center. Some separate standing stores were never rebuilt while new ones went up. New, bigger shopping centers were built where there had only once been empty land. If nothing else, the rebuilding of the area opened up the commercial development of the area. Regardless of the thriving nature of the area now, there still stands a small, simple memorial to the victims of the tornado at the corner of Airport Road and Whitesburg Drive.

I've been meaning to write about the tornado for many years. I even made a decent start at it several years ago, when I was living in New Orleans (pre-K). I dug around the archives of the Huntsville Public Library, spent a small fortune at the microfiche and xerox machines, and even copied a few video clips. Maybe it's time to take that back up. It's a pretty big deal in terms of Huntsville, a major marker in my young life, and it's definitely an event worth remembering. I guess we'll see if I can get the schwerve back.

Anyway, tonight I will pour one out in honor of the Tornado of '89, its victims, and its survivors.

UPDATED: Here's an email I got from Papa Bear discussing more of what happened for them.

"The Boeing group I worked in had just won another 3 - 5 year contract. There was supposed to be a "win party" at a "German" restaurant over on University Drive, east of Jordan Lane on the south side of University, that's now closed. We had dropped you and Cynthia up the street at the Pumphrey's house. I recall that Shelby and Janie were at dance class in the shopping center across from Grissom High School on Bailey Cove Road. We were just getting ready to leave the house, and we were waiting for the rain to lighten up a bit before leaving for the restaurant. (Otherwise, we'd have been stuck on Airport Road just when the main funnel went down it.) The train had just gone south along the tracks about 10 minutes earlier. I went to the bathroom before leaving and heard a low rumbling like the diesel locomotive through the open window. I wondered, "Why is the train backing up? It just went down and hasn't had time to get to Lily Flagg or Weatherly Road yet." Then I thought, "Wait a minute, that's not a train!" So, I zipped up and out and told your mother to get into the hallway and close the doors, that there was a tornado close by. I threw a couple of flashlights and hardhats into the hall and went to look out the carport and back to see if I could hear or see where the tornado was. The main noise was from the west, but there seemed also to be a secondary noise from the southwest, toward Golf and Martin Roads. So, I went back in, and we sat in the hallway until the sound faded away. Then I went back out to listen for more tornados.

Soon afterwards, we drove up in the old Dodge van to check on y'all. I took Sue over to get her two kids from the dance class. It was a long and careful trip because there was no power, there was debris around and traffic, and it was dark.

Later, I heard the real train coming back. I grabbed my gas lantern, went out and flagged them down behind our house. They asked why I flagged them down. They didn't have a radio with them and couldn't have heard it over the train noise anyway. I told them that a major tornado had gone up Airport Road a couple of hours earlier and I wasn't sure what was on the tracks or even if the tracks hadn't been ripped loose. I went with them up the tracks almost to Airport Road, and after they saw the damage they decided to park the train just north of us for the night (it was a couple of days before they could get it across Airport Road) and used our phone to call in and get picked up. They sent me a note of thanks."

05 November 2007


Quite a weekend in Football. Once again, with nothing on the agenda until later in the evening on Saturday, we were able to fire up 2 TV's and the laptop.

Games watched in full: Florida-Vandy, Penn State-Purdue, Wisconsin-Ohio State, LSU-Alabama, Michigan-Michigan State, Texas-Oklahoma State, Arizona St.-Oregon

Games watched (parts) : Iowa-Northwestern, Arkansas-South Carolina, Navy-Notre Dame, South Florida-Cincinnati, Kansas-Nebraska, Boston College-Florida State

Games watched: Denver-Detroit, New Orleans-Jacksonville, San Diego-Minnesota, Cincinnati-Buffalo, New England-Indianapolis, Dallas-Philadelphia

As for NCAA Football, no doubt in my mind that Oregon and LSU are the top two teams. Say what you will about Ohio State being undefeated, but they're undefeated against inferior opponents. Each week another undefeated team gets knocked off, it's good news. I just don't think we're going to end up with the clusterfuck everyone thinks we will. Kansas will lose the Big 12 Championship game if it has to face Oklahoma. Ohio State stands a good chance of losing to Michigan. LSU has a tough schedule, but if they can keep from shooting themselves in the foot with stupid penalties and a coach that has balls for brains, they might run the gamut and come out with only one-loss (and again, a 1 loss SEC team in the championship game? This SERIOUSLY still upsets me about Auburn in 2004). As for Oregon, I think they'll cruise on in with Dixon healthy.

Oregon-LSU would be a hell of a game. High scoring. LSU-Ohio State would just give OSU another chance to be the SEC's whipping Boy.

Glad to see NAVY take it to the Golden Domers who are now 1-8. Which is pretty fucking fantastic.

How Auburn is 6-3 and Florida is 5-3 and yet Florida is still ranked ahead of the Auburn team that marched into Gainesville and beat the Gators is beyond my comprehension. Alas, the South Florida loss is starting to lose its luster, if a loss could have a luster. HUGE game against Georgia this week, not only because it's the South's oldest rivalry, but because Georgia has somehow managed to land themselves in the top 10. If Tuberville can pull out another road victory, that bodes well for momentum going into an off week before a Thanksgiving-weekend (!!!!) Iron Bowl.

Which is awesome because it means I'll be in Alabama to get a piece of the pre-game hype that I've missed since I left the state 5 years ago. I haven't had a fully hyped Iron Bowl since 2001.

As for Alabama, they looked okay. Yeah, the kept the game tight all the way until the end, but consider 1)LSU's penalties, 2) LSU's turnovers, and 3) Bama's complete inability to translate those early turnovers into points, and one can see why LSU managed to pull the win out of their ass. That said, Saban has them headed in the right direction and for the next 3 years (until he leaves for his next coaching job), he'll have that team turned around. Scary. But at least, finally, the Iron Bowl will mean something again on the national stage with both teams likely ranked in the top 25.

As for NFL, I have nothing to say about the GAME OF THE CENTURY. Actually kind of boring. The Pats floundered until Brady decided to try and then Peyton choked the game away. If nothing else, though, the game was worth watching just to see Randy Moss play. Incredible athlete. His one handed catch was just absolutely SICK.

Good to see the Saints turning things around. They got a little momentum going, forced themselves through some stumbling blocks and have reeled off 4 wins a row. The O-Line has blocked, giving Brees time to find his receivers, who have done a good job not dropping the ball as much as usual. Brees has been allowed to find his rhythm and while not doing mind-blowing, Purple Jesus level work out of the backfield, Reggie has been consistent and a good source of yardage, giving the Saints more opportunities. The defense (especially the God-awful secondary) leaves lots to be desired. And I don't care if McKenzie returned that INT for a TD, that still doesn't make up for his otherwise horrible play all season. And last season. And the season before that.

Still, it's hard to complain now that we're 4-4 and sitting only a half game behind the Bucs for first place in the NFC South. The remainder of the schedule looks pretty easy, especially considering we have the Rams and Texans up next. Being at 6-4 headed into Thanksgiving is a REAL possibility, as well as having a shot to sweep the other division foes and lock down the division. It hasn't been pretty, but they're turning the season around one week at a time. Big ups to Brees and Coach Sean for getting that team motivated and turn it around.

Also thanks to my brother Marques Colston for rising from the Fantasy graveyard the last 2 weeks. I greatly appreciate it.

And the aforementioned Purple Jesus performance for the Vikings was amazing. I'm glad I got to watch some of it live. Fucking sick. And it makes me giddy just thinking about having him on my fantasy team. Unbelievable pick-up for me, just before he broke big.


Book of the Week: The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly
Movie of the Week: The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D
Record of the Week: Time Out of Mind - Bob Dylan
Current Viewing: The Wire, Season 1

29 October 2007


The 2007-2008 NBA season is right around the corner. I've had a touch-and-go relationship with the NBA. Growing up, I watched a lot of the Spurs because of David Robinson (he was in the Navy, my dad was in the Navy, so I made a connection) and I was one of the 85% of the nation who rooted MJ on in his first three-peat. I also followed the Celtics and hated the Bad Boy Pistons (sorry Dobry & Maryann). I loved the beauty of Bird's jump shot and the stoic nature of Robert Parrish. I was enthralled by the "Showtime" Lakers of the 80's and dug the Kurt Rambis look.

But over the past 10 years, my relationship with the NBA has been luke-warm at best. After the first Bulls three-peat, I began to cool on them. Between them and the Rockets, I just didn't give a damn. I loved Charles Barkley, but after the near-miss in '93 against the Bulls, he began to fade a bit, though he did a great job with the Rockets, just nearly missing the Finals in '97. The Spurs won the title in '99, but it was a strike-shortened season. After that, I watched solely out of hatred for the Lakers and hoping to see them lose, but neither the Trailblazers or the Kings could ever put them away. I just hated the whole "Dynasty" aspect of the league, mainly because I didn't have a team I was emotionally invested in.

I followed the Spurs when I could, rejoicing in their 2003 title, but then Robinson retired and I was left without a favorite player. The Hornets had moved to New Orleans and I did my best to follow them, but they were kind of bad in a highly competitive Conference and I never really followed the Mavs because I can't stand Nowitski, though I love Nash.

In fact, my association with ALL basketball waned, as I began following college basketball less and less. I always loved March Madness, but I also loved the regular season as well. Even though the SEC didn't dominate and Auburn was always mediocre and over the years, I just found it harder and harder to care.

Even when Chris Paul joined the Hornets, I couldn't get back into basketball. The quality of NBA play became atrocious (for reasons I can't describe because I am unknowledgable because of said lack of following the game) with teams scoring 70-80 points a game, especially in the Eastern Conference, and, being based in the east, these are the teams I saw more coverage of.

In the summer of 2004, I joined Pete and Misko in rooting against the Lakers and actually FOR the Pistons during the Finals, watching every game at the recently rehabbed and reopened Rendezvous Tavern on Magazine St. While New Orleans isn't a huge NBA town, it was great sitting there with 15 other people, all of whom were rooting AGAINST the Lakers more then FOR the Pistons.

My move to Chicago in the fall of 2006 did little to rekindle my interest in the sport outside of following the playoffs and tournaments. Even the George Mason cinderella run didn't do much for me.

What finally got me back into the sport was the duo of Greg Oden and Kevin Durant lighting up the NCAA last year. Watching Oden just dominate the Big 10 with his quiet, stoic manner and then seeing the opposite of that, the young, flashy Durant, they were both so much fun to watch. For the first time in years (and by years I mean at least 10), I was actually checking basketball schedules to make sure I saw every Texas and Ohio State game I could, particularly the Longhorns. I even followed the Lottery for the first time in the same time span, curious to see where Durant and Oden would end up.

Now, they're both in the NBA, even though Oden is tragically done for the season before it even began. But Durant is still in Seattle and even though they're a west coast team and destined for many a 9:30 tip-offs on TNT and ESPN, I'll make a point of following him. There certainly aren't any players as electric as those two in the NCAA, but they've done the job: I'm hooked on basketball again.

I'm even beginning to get myself ramped up for the Bulls. Unbeknownst to me, the Bulls were apparently decent last year, as evidenced by their run in the playoffs. Not that I would have noticed because by then I was already into the swing of the Cubs season.

I'm also gearing up for another year of Fantasy NBA. I'm pretty excited about all of this. It'll be the first time in a long time I've followed the NBA closely and I'm pumped. We'll see how long I can maintain the momentum.

24 October 2007

Little help...

So, anyone in the Chicago area want to give me a job? Preferably in the editing/writing arena? Because if I have to come in to this office for another week, I may stab myself in the eye with a rusty screwdriver. Or get fired. Whichever comes first.

Pictures, blurry ones, from this weekend forthcoming...

18 October 2007


Really interesting piece in New York magazine about the Gawker blog and web empire. Definitely worth a read if familiar with the site or many of their sites (their Deadspin sports blog is a daily read for me, a link for which is in my blogroll at the right). It's interesting the way a portrayal is painted of these bloggers as people who yearn for jobs in the industry they despise. Whether or not the portrayal is accurate is anyone's guess, but it certainly does bring up some salient points.

Click here for "Gawker and the Rage of the Creative Underclass."

On a related note is this clip of Jimmy Kimmel hosting the Larry King show from earlier this summer in which he takes Emily Gould, interviewed in the above piece, to task for the Gawker Stalker feature of their website. Pretty great stuff.

16 October 2007

Mice, not Mouse

I have taken some flack from several people for my decision to drown Mordachi, as I mentioned in my last post. Some see this as a cruel act, something that makes me seem some kind of killer, an ogre. All I can say is that I actually did the humane thing by drowning Mordachi. I was not going to set him free anywhere close to my house because of the chances of him returning and to simply toss him in the garbage, still alive and stuck to the trap, would have been especially cruel, to allow him to starve to death.

Also, it should be pointed out that this mouse not only got into our food, causing us to throw out a large amount of food now spoiled by Mordachi, but also pooped all over the place. An insane amount, actually, for one goddamn mouse. And that's just not very nice. Now, put yourself in my position: an unwanted guest comes into your house and proceeds to poop all over the counter and in drawers and eat the food in your pantry. You might not drown them (unless you're Maryann and have a blood lust), but you're going to do everything in your power to remove them from your home. That's what I did. Simple as that.

This brings us to yesterday evening, when I discovered the reason one small little mouse was able to produce so much poop: there wasn't just a mouse, there were mice. And one of them was stuck in the other sticky trap. Smaller than Mordachi, I'm not sure how long this one was stuck. Beth swears it wasn't there in the morning. It wasn't moving much, but it was still alive. I had a rather bad afternoon, participating in another shouting match with my boss, so I left it there to die. Which it apparently did. By the time Beth got home and we tossed it (hence forth called "Nabisco" as decreed by Beth), death had made its visit.

So that brings the tally thus far to two dead mice, one alive Marcus. Nabisco and Mordachi are hopefully the only two mice in the house, but there's no telling, really. Beth is going to purchase more sticky traps tonight and we'll see if we net anymore in Operation: Secret of Nimh.

I had been working on an entry about this weird issue I was having with leaving my current job and the guilt associated with it. Every time I thought about the resumes I was sending out, or my clandestine phone interview I conducted in the bathroom, I felt guilty, like I was cheating on a girlfriend or a spouse. I can't really explain why. I really dislike this job. I really dislike the boss. I get nothing out of working here. I wake every morning dreading coming into this office. Several times in the past few weeks, I've felt like getting off the train and blowing off work altogether (something I end up not doing because I possess personal responsibility).

So why not get a new job?

Maybe I felt guilty because, in a way, the boss took a chance on hiring a kid who hadn't even moved to the city yet. And I am grateful for having meaningful employment upon my move. Even if the health insurance offered is a joke.

But all that evaporated with the latest blow-up, the details of which I won't go into here. That pretty much caused any guilt I still had to evaporate into a cloud of "Fuck yall, i'm out of here ASAP."

Still, I'm intrigued as to why I would feel guilty in the first place. It's not like these people gave me a lung. Or a blowjob. Not that I would want either from the people around this office (no offense, Pete). I'm just intrigued how I can simultaneously despise this job and yet feel bad about trying to leave it. Maybe a sense of obligation? Growing too comfortable with the evil I know?

Irregardless, I've made my decision, and hopefully, someone realizes that I'd make a great addition to their editorial team.

And that I'm easy on the eyes.

12 October 2007

Man vs Beast

It all started in Wisconsin. Sometime during my five-day stay at the excellent Life O'Riley Farm, a mouse snuck into my suitcase. I didn't really pay attention to my suitcase and, the morning of my departure, tossed a packet of oatmeal in there. When I returned to my apartment in Chicago, I opened the suitcase and unpacked my laptop so I could track my fantasy football team. Only later did I investigate and discover that the oatmeal packet had been chewed on and, judging by the presence of droppings, the chewer had been in the suitcase for the duration of the trip. I had transported a rodent across state lines.

Over the next two weeks, Beth and I began seeing evidence of our new, unwanted roommate. Things were chewed, poop was prevalent, and we began seeing him make daring runs across the kitchen floor. This pissed me off. How dare it run up on my counter and poop all over it. How dare it poop in MY apartment without my permission. This meant all out war. I was going to destroy this mouse. I was going to sever his head and impale it on a toothpick in the front yard to scare off other potential gate-crashing rodents.

Tale of the Tape


Height: 6'1" vs 0'3"
Weight: 208 lbs vs 4 oz
Reach: 38 inches vs 1.5 inches

Seems pretty uneven, know? But the little bastard held his own. We put out sticky traps and he got around them with so much ease I swear I could hear him laughing.

Mordachi: 1, Marcus: 0

We put out poison that seemed to be devoured and scattered about haphazardly, the way a drunk treats the mininbar.

Mordachi: 2, Marcus: 0

I was beginning to think Mordachi (as we named him) was going to be with us forever, continually pooping in the corner behind the microwave.

He was brazen, I'll give him that. Wednesday morning, I came face to face with him. Twice.

Mordachi: 4, Marcus: 0

I caught him in the act of burrowing into some hamburger buns Beth had stored in the pantry. We exchanged that doomed glance, that glance in which we know that, in spite of the respect we hold for each other, it'll only end one way: with one of us dead. I may or may not have squealed like a 3 year old when Mordachi jumped down from the shelf and made for the nearest floorboard crack. A few minutes later, he bolted from the pantry to the stove and was once again gone.

Figuring that he was loving the pantry more than we had thought, we moved sticky traps to the bottom level of the pantry, just inside the door so he wouldn't realize what he was in until it was too late.

It took two more days, but this afternoon, I came home to find him stuck and struggling in one of the sticky traps. He had pulled a Fievel from Wisconsin, had negotiated the labyrinth of our kitchen, feasted on our hamburger buns and poison, refusing to give in. He defied logic and science. He seemed more machine than mouse.

So I let him sit in the trap for a few hours to live with what he had done, the way he had interrupted our lives and thrown them into a disheveled mess. He haunted our pantry and our dreams. I wanted him to reflect on that for a while. After watching the Red Sox game, I filled a garbage bag with water, wished Mordachi well, and told him I was sorry. He squeaked frantically and still tried to pry himself loose from the glue.

I'm sure there's a deeper meaning here, a life lesson to be learned. Something about the balance of progress versus nature. Maybe something about the environment, about man's affect on nature and nature being forced to do what it can to survive. One could learn a lot about symbiosis from this experience. After all, Mordachi wasn't bothering us THAT much was he? We could have set our food apart enough that we would have been fine, couldn't we? He didn't do anything directly to hurt us or impede our daily lives did he? We could have lived in harmony and fostered a connection between ourselves and the more primitive nature that we ignore and sometimes fear.

On the other hand, mice are fucking disgusting and carry the plague, so I drowned him and tossed the bag in the alley.

Mordachi: Dead, Marcus: Alive

...And we're back

It used to go like that, now it goes like this.